Cabs in Polenta: Is polenta keto-friendly? 


Do you also feel overwhelmed by the many new words that are suddenly flying around? 

I mean, a few years ago, we didn’t even know about keto and polenta, never mind whether they have anything to do with each other.

Maybe you are doing keto, so you know that it’s a type of diet, but polenta? 

What’s that, and can you eat it if you are on a keto diet? Is polenta keto-friendly? 

The short answer: no, you can’t eat polenta if you are doing keto. The long answer: polenta’s nutritional benefits may justify the rare small portion for some keto followers. 

Well, you should read this article if you wish to learn more!

In this article, we’ll also talk about:

  • What’s Polenta?
  • Nutrition Fact per 100 gram
  • Is Polenta a low-carb food? 
  • Can you eat polenta on keto diet?
  • … and other relating questions about this 

Are you ready to find out the answers?

Then, let’s get to it!

image of Polenta

What is polenta?

Polenta is a kind of porridge, generally made by mixing cornmeal with saltwater, cooked over low heat while constantly being stirred. Polenta is a popular dish in northern Italy, but people also regularly eat it in Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, Argentina, and other Eastern Europe and South America countries. (∗)

Since the introduction of breakfast cereals, most people are not familiar with porridge, which is traditionally eaten hot with milk and sugar. 

But polenta is not your usual hot breakfast porridge. 

It is much more versatile. 

You can have it with milk and sugar to get your day going, but you can also have it as part of a savory meal with meat, vegetables, or cheese.

If you let it cool down, you can cut it into slices and fry it.

It’s deliciously flavored with cheese and served with roasted vegetables and salad. 

Nutritional facts per 100g polenta

Net carbs77g
Dietary fiber6g

So, how many carbs are in a cup of cooked polenta? 

Polenta (1 cup, cooked) contains 48.1g total carbs, 45.7g net carbs, 1.1g fat, 4.4g protein, and 226 calories.

Source: (*,*)

FUN FACT: Did you know that if you eat polenta, you share something with the mighty Roman army? 

These soldiers used to eat the so-called pulmentum to get the energy for their long marches through the Roman Empire. 

The term originally referred to porridge made from any grain. 

Modern-day polenta is usually yellow maize, also called corn, but can also be made from buckwheat, white maize, or a mixture of them.

Polenta, as we know it today, originates from Northern Italy.

Is polenta a low-carb food?

Polenta is low-fat and low-calorie, but it’s not a low-carb food. 

It is high in complex carbohydrates, which in itself is a good thing because it takes a long to digest and keeps you feeling full for a long time. That means it’s a satisfying food to eat.

Can you eat polenta on a keto diet?

Since you have to limit your net carb consumption to 20g – 30g per day to stay in ketosis, it would be hard to include polenta in your diet without slipping out of keto as it’s high in carbs. A 100g serving equates to 77g of net carbs, far too much if you are setting your sights on 20-30g per day.

Can you eat polenta on a low-carb diet?

So you can’t eat polenta when you are on the keto diet, but can you eat it on a low-carb diet? It would not be impossible, but you’ll quickly run out of carbs for the day.

Consider that on a low-carb diet you’d be allowed between 50 and 100g of net carbs per day. Since a serving would be 125g of polenta, you would be having your 100 grams for the day in one tiny serving. Would you want to do that?

You could get away with the rare small portion of polenta provided you stick strictly to your diet plan and take your calories for the entire day into account.

Fun Fact: Authentic polenta is made from a specific variety of corn. 

Authentic or so-called heirloom polenta is made using the New England Eight Row Flint, or Otto File variety corn. (∗) This variety has a deep yellow color and rich flavor. This is the variety used in Italy.

Keto polenta substitute

You can still have cornbread!

On the keto diet, wheat flour is not permitted, and cornmeal or polenta has too many calories.

Don’t fret! You can still make your favorite cornbread by finding keto-friendly recipes online. In these recipes, polenta is substituted with almond and coconut flours for scrumptious low-carb cornbread.

Relating Questions 

1. Are cornmeal and polenta the same thing?

We can understand that you are asking this question. If polenta is made from corn, surely it’s the same as cornmeal when it’s ground. 

However, they are not the same thing. Polenta is a dish from Northern Italy made from ground corn of a certain variety, and cornmeal is ground corn. 

The cornmeal you buy to make the dish “polenta” is made from cornmeal by the same name. 

Polenta is ground differently, resulting in a coarser product, but basically, they are the same thing. 

You can use medium or coarse-ground cornmeal in the place of polenta.

If you want to make real polenta, look out for cornmeal labeled “polenta” and check what corn was milled to produce the product. 

You can also indulge in a packet imported from Italy.

2. What is the difference between grits and polenta?

Good question. Grits and polenta are both made from ground corn, but they are made from different corn varieties. Polenta is obtained from milling yellow maize and grits come from white corn.

3. Is polenta more low carb than potato

  • A medium-sized (100g) potato, baked in its skin has about 21.08 g of carbohydrates.
  • A 30g (1 tablespoon) of polenta flour provides about 24 g of carbohydrates.

So, it seems potatoes is more low carb than polenta.

4. Is polenta good for weight loss?

Like other whole grains, polenta is low in calories when cooked. It has about 70 calories per 100g serving. Polenta is high in nutrients and low in calories, making it suitable for people trying to lose weight on a low-calorie diet.

5. Is polenta healthy?

If you decide to try some polenta, rest assured that it’s a portion of very healthy food to include in your diet. In addition to complex carbs, the cornmeal used to make polenta contains high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients called carotenoids. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, reducing your risk of contracting certain chronic diseases. 

That means you’ll stay younger for longer!

6. Is polenta healthier than pasta?

Both polenta and past are high in calories, carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Polenta has more fat than pasta, but pasta has slightly more protein. They contain similar amounts of sugar.

So, they are more or less the same for your health.

7. Is polenta gluten-free?

This is the secret benefit of corn – it’s gluten-free. This fact is a huge boon for the millions of people who are gluten intolerant and can’t eat any wheat products like breads and pastas. 


So, is polenta keto-friendly? No, strictly speaking, it’s not. If you are doing keto, avoid polenta.

However, if you are dying for some tortilla chips, you can try your hand at making your own low-carb grilled tortilla chips. 

Tip: To avoid the temptation to eat too much, use salt very sparingly. Also, just have a few for a treat. Remember, corn is high in carbs and that's a no-no for keto. 

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